These Simple Marks

Here’s a truth you won’t believe until you prove it to yourself: your children are substantially taller than you think they are.

Here’s a truth you won’t believe until you prove it to yourself: your children are substantially taller than you think they are. I think we miss this because we are constantly looking at their eyes rather than at the tops of their heads. Anyone who has watched a young child draw a face knows they tend to miscalculate the placement of the eyes. A child will situate the eyes high upon the upper reaches of the forehead. In reality, eyes are situated much lower on the head than we realize.

All this to say, your brain thinks your children are only as tall as their eyes because that’s where your eyes are always finding them. When you mark their height on a yardstick or wall, it’s always a shock to see how much they’ve grown, much to the delight of the child. Isn’t this a beautiful metaphor for motherhood? As we fix our eyes upon our childrens’, the windows to their souls, we fail to see the rapid speed at which they’re growing.

Marking children’s growth on a door frame, giant ruler or growth chart is nothing new. We moved into our house when our daughter was 5 and our son was 2. We staked out the door frame inside of our pantry as our measuring spot. We marked their move-in height, and over the years we’ve chronicled their growth on every birthday. So simple – it takes two minutes at most. A swift slash of the Sharpie and we’re done.

I have to tell you, the rewards of this effort have increased with time. It was certainly fun to see the growth from 3 to 4 or 6 to 7. But now that my kids are 15 and 12, we have a decade of comparisons at which to marvel. On each birthday, they compare their growth to the amount they grew in previous years. No two years are quite the same. They compare their own growth to one another’s. They estimate future growth. These simple marks prompt a wealth of self-reflection, and on some level, gratitude. I see it hidden behind their smiling eyes, proud to have another year, another inch.

This past summer all the cousins happened to be at my house. For some reason, talk turned to the measuring wall. Everyone wanted to be measured and marked. So we did. Friends, even more delight was had by all. We could see how 3-year-old Maggie compared to 12-year-old Tate way back when he was 3. We could see how 12-year-old Clara has outpaced everyone, even 15-year-old Sarah. Everyone had a turn being marked on the wall and is looking forward to being sized up again on their next birthday or visit. These simple marks reminded us that growing is good, but growing together is better.

Last night we marked my husband’s and my height on the wall as well. These simple marks allow the kids to visibly measure how quickly they are approaching adulthood, size wise anyway.

A year ago our family was blessed with a surprise caboose baby. Today we’ll prop up his little 1-year-old self against the door frame and initiate his progress up the wall. No doubt his height will come as a surprise to me.

This is the easiest family recording I’ve come across. No photo book to lay out or purchase. No journal to keep up with. It’s quick, easy and so delightful to everyone who interacts with it. This marked up piece of wood represents the days that turned into years, and the years that make up our life. If and when we ever move, you can bet I’ll be prying that side of the door frame free and taking it with me. These simple marks have carved important family history in that length of wood.

SHARE THIS STORY